Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker, who has sealed the case record to reduce pretrial publicity, cleared the courtroom for what had been scheduled as a "status conference" in the case against Courtney Lockhart.
Afterward the judge confirmed through his staff that the trial would begin Nov. 8.
Lockhart, 25, of Smiths Station, is to be tried on capital murder charges in the March 4, 2008, killing of 18-year-old Lauren Burk, a freshman from Marietta. If convicted he could receive the death sentence.
Lockhart was led in shackles into the courtroom by sheriff's deputies. Wearing dark blue slacks and a white dress shirt, he appeared to gesture to about 10 family members and friends gathered in the courtroom.
His attorney, Joel Collins, asked the judge for permission to have his handcuffs removed. Walker approved, then asked spectators, including news reporters and members of Lockhart's family, to leave so he and the attorneys could discuss evidence.
The judge and attorneys left the courtroom through a back door without comment at the end of the proceeding.
Walker said through his staff that he would issue a statement later this week on the ground rules for the trial.
Lockhart was arrested three days after Burk was found in the roadway on Alabama Highway 147. She had been shot and subsequently died at a local hospital.